Spanish Sauvignon Blanc – anybody ?

jose-pariente-sb-2014In the Rueda region in the heart on the Iberian peninsula where Verdejo and Viura are kings, Sauvignon Blanc also plays a part even if it is overshadowed. The grapes for this wine come from the first Sauvignon Blanc vines planted in this area around 30 years ago and has resulted in this deliciously bright and fruity Jose Periente SB 2014.

This is more of a cross between French and New Zealand SB’s as it has elements of both, darkish straw like colour in the glass with bright fresh citrus fruits on the nose with some tropical passion fruit and a whiff of freshly cut grass.

Taste wise it is more subdued but still with a touch of bright acidic citrus fruits, again a little tropical sweetness and grassiness but finishing quite vegetal with green peppers, maybe even a little fresh pea pods and herbs.

I really enjoyed this and paired with steamed fresh Haddock it was even better. I bought this at Majestic for around £9.99 a little while ago but not sure if they still sell it but if you can find it give it a go you may well be surprised how good it is.

I tend to like Verdejo, Viura, Albarino, Godello to name a few but this is definitely up there with the best of Spanish white wines I’ve tasted recently.

8.5corks

My rating 8.5/10 Corks

Majestic ?    around £10

 

 

Lidl beauty – Gran Reboreda 2015

reboreda1Popped into Lidl supermarket recently and picked up this unusual blend  from the Ribiero (Galicia) region which is situated in north west Spain.

The bottle caught my eye as it featured one of my favourite white grapes Godello although with this one it’s a small part of a blend with Treixadura which is the predominant grape around 80% (used mainly in the making of Portuguese Vinho Verde) also featuring is another lesser known grape Loureira.

This is a very tall elongated bottle which might be a problem if storing in the fridge upright, when poured it’s a very pale straw like colour with fairly muted aromas even after hovering with my nose stuck in the glass for a while it was hard to pick out anything apart from citrus fruits, mainly lemons, there was also a faint whiff of herbs and flowers.

reboreda

The taste is where this wine shines, it’s very dry with a bright tangy lemon flavour, followed by what tasted like dried mixed herbs. Very fleshy weighty texture and a long satisfying finish.

As part of the new Lidl range this retails at £8.99 and on first tasting, in my opinion, worth every penny, I absolutely loved it, thoroughly recommend it  and even though I haven’t got a Lidl  local to me I will be making a trip to the nearest store to buy some more.

Unfortunately Lidl seem to change their wines pretty rapidly so I don’t know how long they will have this on the shelf but if you want to try something different I urge you to go out quickly and get some, hopefully you won’t be disappointed, top stuff !!

8.5corksMy rating 8.5/10 Corks

Lidl £8.99

Two everyday Spanish reds

albaicampo-vTwo Spanish reds take to the stage this time, easily available from most supermarkets and for the quality, reasonably priced.

Both from the Rioja region of Northern Spain, one a 100% Tempranillo and one 100% Garnacha and made in a modern style, with the focus very much on the pure fruit.

Campo Viejo has been around for along time is very well known and features on the shelves of many supermarkets, the Albai you can find mainly in Tesco and Sainsburys.

As I mentioned earlier both these wines are made in a modern style and are very fruit forward, so lets start with the Albai. Firstly the bottle itself which is surprisingly heavy and chunky, when poured the wine has a fairly dense dark purple colour with prominent aromas of cherries and strawberries this follows through in the taste which gives an instant mouthful of juicy bright red fruits. Although slightly tart initially there is a hint of appealing sweetness which comes through on the finish. For an entry-level unoaked Rioja 13% ABV, this wine may well hit the spot for a lot of people but if you prefer a bit of oaked woodiness in your wine that’s still made in the modern style then perhaps for a few pounds more the Reserva is the one to go for, which is in my opinion, excellent.

Next, I think most people would have heard of Campo Viejo with its distinctive labels, most of you guys must have tried their Rioja Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva but how many of you have tried their Garnacha ? ( if you click on the link you will see my thoughts on this CV Garnacha, second review down, when I was a member of the Tesco Wine Forum under the name spikedc, although it was for the 2012 vintage). Unlike the Albai this CV wine has been aged for 4 months in American oak barrels and this comes through in the taste, so as well as the sweet red fruits (think of those cherry drop sweets) there is a soft vanilla creaminess about it. Be warned though this is 14% ABV and can creep up on you pretty quickly.

So overall, both pretty good everyday wines without being too complex, both appeal in their bright fruity flavours and both are very easy to drink.

7corks

Castillo de Albai Rioja 2015

My Rating 7/10 Cork

 

7corks

Campo Viejo Garnacha 2015

My Rating 7/10 Corks

The three wine review

tale-of-three-winesThis week I review three contrasting wines, a South African Chenin Blanc, a Chilean Chardonnay and a rather nice Spanish Monastrell.

Firstly the Chardonnay from a new range launched by Morrisons called the Head Honcho which also includes a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot, these are all the sole property of Morrisons. Aimed primarily at the younger market with its bright eye-catching labels and its simplified consumer friendly wine description on the back, not to mention the price which is around £6.

The Head Honcho Chardonnay 2015 is an entry level wine so  I didn’t expect anything special, nothing to dislike but nothing to write home about either. Heady aromas of tropical fruits, pineapple, peach and mangoes, there was also a noticeable buttery nose.
Taste wise it had bright tropical fruits, touch on the sweet side which was almost slightly artificial. Did I enjoy it? well, it was OK but I do think a lot of people will like it.

Next, the  South African Zalze Bush Vine Chenin 2016 which was a wine selected by a member of our wine club ‘Cuvée Reserve’ for our monthly tasting in which we all take a turn at selecting a widely available bottle up to £10 to discuss and give our views.

Initially  I probably had this chilling for too long and the aromas were a little muted, but as the glass warmed up the nose became pretty full on with tropical fruits especially ripe pineapple, guava and peaches .
The tropical theme continued  in the tasting with the pineapple dominating but with some lemons and limes in the background giving it a fresh, crisp and bright hit in the mouth almost zingy.  Although fairly dry, there was a hint of sweetness as well which was appealing.

Overall thought this was pretty decent and probably worth the full price, I will say that it was even better 24hrs later as I had a little drop left, the flavours were more intense almost like a fresh fruit salad with a touch of cream. I also think that this would probably be even better aged for a little longer.

Lastly, the Mo Salinas Monastrell 2013 and definitely my favourite, from the Alicante region of south east Spain, which had a some what rustic charm about it. Made mostly with Monastrell (aka Mourvedre) with a splash of Garnacha and Cabernet.

Chilled this for about ten minutes as I often do with my reds. In the glass is was a deep purple with a nose of ripe bramble fruit, some smoke and a savoury, slightly earthy smell. On tasting this was medium bodied, with bright dark fruits, some spice, liquorice,  hint of oak. There was a hit of acidity giving it a fresh mouth-watering feel and it had moderate but noticeable tannins.

Nothing to complex but a very enjoyable bottle that I would certainly buy again and I have no hesitation in recommending if you want a fairly inexpensive midweek red.

6corks

Head Honcho Chardonnay 2015

My Rating 6/10 Corks

 

7.5corks

Zalze Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2016

My Rating 7.5/10 Corks

 

8corks

Mo Salinas Monastrell 2013

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Rioja Recognises Awards 2016

rioja-logoOn Wednesday the 3rd November 2016, thanks to courtesy of Brian Elliot of ‘MidWeek Wines’  and of course the Consejo Regulador of Rioja DOCa , I was lucky enough to be invited to the ‘Rioja Recognises’ awards in the swanky  Hispania Spanish restaurant in the heart of London’s financial area overlooked by the Bank of England. This was specially exciting for me as I have a love and passion for anything Spanish, especially wine and food.

riojarecognises7
Sarah Jane Evans MW

The awards ceremony honoured four industry personalities for their contributions and significant impact they have had on Rioja in the UK. Hosted by Sarah Jane Evans MW (a previous winner in 2015)  esteemed guests including the Spanish Ambassador Mr Fredrico Trillo-Figueroa along with a host of retailers, buyers and celebrity wine experts.

riojarecognises2The evening featured top scoring Rioja wines from the recent 10×10 tasting in which a panel of judges selected and narrowed down ten of the best wines of  the region from a list of 100. To accompany these a fantastic selection of Tapas was served freshly prepared by the Hispania chefs including such delights as Iberico ham, chorizo (hot and cold), salami, croquettes, Spanish omelette and Paella rice.

Among the winners included Waitrose buyer Nick Room for his ‘Outstanding Contribution’, Cambridge Wine Merchant Hal Wilson for ‘Off-trade Personality of the year’, Ben Henshaw of Indigo wines for ‘Distributor of the year’ and last but not least celebrity broadcaster and writer Susy Atkins ‘ for Communicator of the year’.

riojarecognises10

 

Although a great evening of celebrating these awards the real stars of the show were the wines themselves, the ten selected (2 whites, 1 Rosado and 7 reds) were all stunning and well received by everyone.

rioja-recognises-wine-list
List of the final wines selected from the earlier 10×10 tasting

My favourites were both the Chairs’ choices ‘La Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva 2005‘ and the ‘Bodegas Olarra Summa Reserva 2011‘. The first ‘La Rioja Alta’ was a classic elegant Rioja with an intense aroma of bright cherry fruit, taste wise again cherries with fresh mouth-watering acidity, sweet vanilla, leather and ripe tannins. The Olarra was equally nice with a dusty aroma, along with a mouthful of cherries, strawberries, vanilla and spice.

Special mention for the ‘Atlanza Reserva Especial 2010‘ Bright and lively, good balance, touch of oak and ripe tannins.

Of the two whites the stand out for me was the ‘Bodegas Lecea Blanco Crianza 2012’, if you like your wines oaked this was full of wood, with some pear and a hint of banana, probably best drunk with food though.

All in all a great evening and a a wonderful celebration of what Rioja has to offer and congratulations to all the award winners.

Lastly on a personal note, I am hoping to do a road trip around Rioja for my 60th birthday in just over a years time, still in the planning stages and very much looking forward to it.

riojarecognises3riojarecognises4riojarecognises5

The unexpected delights of Txakoli wine

Txikoli wine (451 x 600)
Serving Txakoli in a San Sebastian Bar

After returning from a ten-day holiday in Northern Spain’s Basque country visiting Bilbao and San Sebastian my overriding wine memory will be the delights of sampling the local hard to pronounce Txakoli (Chock-Ho-Lee)  wine. Go into any local bar and you will see bottles of this unusual wine proudly displayed and when ordered, theatrically poured.

Txakoli is produced in the Spanish provinces of the Basque region where the climate is wet and cool as we found out during our stay and much more suited to white wines.

Tasting the wine is a refreshing if bracing experience, mostly low in alcohol (generally around 10 – 11.5% ABV) and great as an aperitif. It is an acquired taste and maybe not for everyone, it has flavours of crisp green apples, touch of lemon, a slight salty tang (salinity) and high acidity with a tingling fizzy  effervescent finish which I found wonderfully refreshing.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the whole Txakoli experience is the way the wine is served and seemed to be a bit of a competition amongst the bar staff seeing who could pour it from the greatest height (some pouring from above their heads). Pouring from a height aerates the wine causing it to froth and bubble up and just makes the wine more lively and fun to drink but do stand back when they do this because a lot of it ends up splashing on the counter. Most bars also tend to serve Txakoli in tumblers rather than wine glasses and from what I could gather for no other reason other than being traditional.

As I said earlier it is an acquired taste and not everyone will like it but I urge if you are visiting Spain’s Basque region go into a bar order Txakoli not just for the taste but the whole experience of being served, I thought it was wonderful and cheap and I ended up not paying more than €1.80 a glass anywhere.

8corks

 

My Rating 8/10 Corks

 

 

 

El Corte Ingles – The Delivery Saga

El corte InglesI don’t often order things from abroad mainly due to shipping costs and the time it takes to arrive but when I saw a wine deal from the Spanish retailer ‘El Corte Ingles‘ it seemed too much of a bargain to let it go so I took the plunge, as did a few of our guys from Cuvee Reserve (an online wine forum I’m a member of) but as you will read, there was mixed results although things did end up on a positive note. Here’s the deal…

  • Brand: ALEJANDRO FERNANDEZ
  • Features: Includes:
  • 2 x 75 cl bottles of Dehesa La Granja 2007 Vijo red wine from la Tierra de Castilla y León
  • 2 x 75 cl bottles of El Vínculo Crianza 2010 red wine DO Castilla La Mancha
  • 2 x 75 cl bottles of Pesquera Crianza 2012 red wine DO Ribera de DueroEl Corte ingles deal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

casa de la vina
Extra bottle , superb Tempranillo

Six bottles for £47 with free delivery and for first time customers if I spent over £50 I would get £10 off with a Promo Code. Now I know the Pesquera sells in the UK for around £20 per bottle so this seemed like a really good deal. I scoured their site online and looked for another suitable single bottle to take the order over £50 and found a Tempranillo for £10 which took my spend to £57, so with the £10 off the final total was £47 which works out at roughly £6.70 a bottle, I think you’ll agree quite a bargain.

It was on February 27th that I ordered the case online and got a confirmation from El Corte that they were processing the order as did my friends on Cuvee Reserve, so far so good. Then the problems started. the confirmation stated that the order would arrived within 15 days and a couple of us got a further email saying that the order had been dispatched, no dispatch for me though.

Then the second email arrived for some, not me, stating that there has been a delay in shipping due to an issue with the courier. On March 11th I got my first email telling me that my order had been cancelled with no explanation, I emailed them back and got this response…………

Our head managers have just informed that unfortunately there was an issue on your order during shipping and it could not be sorted out in reasonable time.
Since wines quality may be affected,  we regret we had to cancel your order. 

Our managers have issued a 30% discount code for all the inconveniences we have caused. EC130′ Please accept our apologies.

I then received this…………..

Please accept our apologies. There was an issue on our system which prevented your order to be shipped.
That does not mean that we can not send new wines deliveries. In fact, our wines are still available now on our site.  It has been an isolated problem.
About your code, we have requested our managers to activate it for you. Our apologies for that.
As soon as we have their answer, we will get back to you.

Customer services assured me that no money has been taken, others on Cuvee Reserve all got similar emails either about delays or cancellations. As the deal was so good I decided to carry on and made the decision to cancel the order in writing and re-order  as the offer was still available. Then I got this email on March 14th…

We confirm there is no payment done into your order 342686 
About the order 347875, we have found stock delay, we expect new stock to arrive this week.

Followed by this on March 15th…

We regret to inform that your order is delayed. We expect it will be shipped during
the last week of March.
We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused you.

Corte ingles damge
Friends case , remarkably only one bottle damaged and not the Pesquera

Completely fed up I decided to just wait and see what happens, in the mean time some of my Cuvee reserve friends finally got their cases delivered one on April 6th and another on April 12th although the second delivery was damaged (see picture) Corte Ingles did offer him 50% of his money back, which made it an unbelievable deal. Others got fed up and cancelled completely. Finally my order also arrived on the 12th April intact (actually surprisingly well packaged)  but six weeks and numerous emails after my initial order.

Corte ingles bottles
My order safe and sound

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would I order from them again ? yes probably, if the deal is good (still got the 30% discount code). On the plus side the wines I’ve tasted so far have been superb and more than make up for this unfortunate saga.